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October 7, 2019

Robotic nurse assistant to help with routine tasks

Nurses put robot prototype through the paces, helping engineers improve design

With support from NSF, roboticist Dan Popa and a team of engineers and nurses at the University of Louisville are developing a new generation of assistive robots designed to help nurses care for patients in the hospital. The Adaptive Robotic Nurse Assistants will help with routine tasks for patients, such as delivering items, taking them for walks and alerting nurses to emergencies. The idea is to give nurses more time to focus on the critical thinking aspects of patient care. This robot is a "proof of concept" design undergoing an initial round of testing at a simulation lab in the university's School of Nursing. The team is developing neuroadaptive controllers -- a form of artificial intelligence that learns on the fly like humans do -- to enable nurses to easily teach the robots by guiding their movements. The researchers are also testing soft electronic skin and sensing hardware, so the robot assistants can safely navigate and interact with people in the hospital.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF grant #1643989, "PFI:BIC - Adaptive Robotic Nursing Assistants for Physical Tasks in Hospital Environments," through the NSF Partnerships for Innovation program.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Kate Tobin, Science Nation Producer

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